Woman files lawsuit after chairlift accident
A local woman who says she was permanently disabled in a lift accident last April is suing the Aspen Skiing Co. for more than $100,000.Lynda MacDonald was skiing on Aspen Mountain when the accident occurred as she was loading onto Lift 3, according to a lawsuit filed last week in county district court. The lawsuit says that around 12:30 p.m. on April 8, 2004, “Ms. MacDonald, an experienced skier, proceeded onto the loading platform, preparing to load. MacDonald was [the] second [person] in on the right side of the platform; two other individuals were on her left, and one man was on her right.”At the time Ms. MacDonald was preparing to load, the Skico employee/lift operator stationed there was not near the lift controls and was not paying proper or any attention to the skiers being loaded,” the lawsuit alleges.The first three people, including MacDonald, loaded without a problem. But the man on her right was bumped by the lift and his skis “turned sideways. MacDonald’s skis were caught and pushed under the lift seat, and her legs began to twist,” according to the lawsuit. “[Her] boots remained locked into her bindings, and the [motion] caused her right leg and hip to twist. She screamed in pain and yelled to the operator, ‘Stop the lift.'”The lift’s other passengers also yelled for it to be stopped, but “the operator ignored or did not notice [her] predicament and did not stop the lift,” court papers say.David Bellack, lawyer for the Skico, said he had not seen the lawsuit but had reviewed the accident investigation report. “As far as we can tell, the lift operator did everything they were supposed to do,” he said. “We will vigorously defend all lawsuits filed against us, as always.”The man who had gotten entangled with MacDonald jumped from the lift to help her and his movements freed her leg and kept it from breaking, the lawsuit says.She allegedly suffered severe and permanent injuries, including sprains in the base of her spine, hip and buttocks. The suit says she also suffered injuries to her lower vertebrae, legs, ligaments and nerves. She has undergone surgery and has suffered medical expenses and loss of wages from her job as a real estate agent, the lawsuit says.MacDonald has retained Aspen lawyer Martin Freeman. They are asking for an amount more than $100,000 to be determined at trial. They also contend the Skico is liable for a $50,000 penalty under the Passenger Tramway Safety Act.Freeman was unavailable for comment Wednesday.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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